Source: ARTBA analysis of McGraw Hill data for January to September 2014 compared with January to September 2013. Weighted with the ARTBA Price Index that takes into account material prices, wages and inflation.

The real value of highway and bridge contract awards was down 15 percent in the first three quarters of 2014 compared to last year, according to ARTBA analysis of data from McGraw Hill. State and local governments awarded $41.3 billion in highway and bridge work between January and September 2014, compared to $48.7 billion during the same time period in 2013, when adjusted for material costs and inflation.

The latest data indicates that the slowdown we have seen throughout 2014 is continuing into the end of the summer construction season, when state and local governments put out most of their awards. The slowdown is widespread, with 24 states awarding fewer highway and bridge contracts through September 2014 than they did a year ago.  Awards were up in 24 states and programs were fairly flat in three states, either up or down within five percent.

State and local government contract awards for airports were up 25 percent and railroad and mass transit contracts were up 52 percent. Contract awards for docks, piers and wharves were down 12 percent. However, government spending represents a smaller share of these transportation construction markets. The real value of all transportation contract awards from January to September 2014 was down 9 percent compared with the year before.

Contract awards are a leading indicator of future work in the industry as projects get underway.  Detailed data by state and mode is available as part of ARTBA’s market subscription reports. For more information, contact ARTBA’s Lital Shair.